Noise reduction in rail freight transport is a persistent and recurring subject when discussing progress and innovation within the industry. GATX Rail Europe and its stakeholders demonstrated their dedication in addressing this issue head-on with the adoption of the latest low-noise K and LL brake blocks technologies.
GATX Rail Europe thoroughly re-assessed its entire fleet and began using K or LL brake blocks technologies, thus reducing noise emissions by fifty percent. With the group effort of GATX staff, customers, and several workshops, since 2017 we managed to upgrade another 8,500 existing railcars with the new LL brake blocks. Thanks to this initiative and our continuous investments into new silent rail equipment we reached a new milestone: Today, in our fleet of roughly 27,500 cars, 9 out of 10 railcars are equipped with low-noise brakes. This is as close to 100% as it gets — the remainder of the railcars are too near their end-of-life for them to be retrofitted.
The latest lot of upgrades occurred through our participation in the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – ‘Silent Rail Program’, created to support low-noise railcars. Coming to its close, ‘Silent Rail’ has been greatly useful in the advancement of rail transport technologies, and we are deeply grateful to all of the EU program’s members, customers and workshop participants for their collaboration.
The main industry goal is to implement the EU’s noise regulations and make rail freight silent. While this challenge is not as simple as a TV remote control’s single ‘mute’ push-button, the application of a new mechanism, instead, has brought a significant reduction in noise levels.
GATX Rail Europe´s Chief Technical Officer Götz Nink confirmed, “Making rail freight traffic silent is a priority for us as a company, as well as for the many associations we are part of, our customers and the EU as a whole, including CEF’s programs.”
Noise pollution management has also dominated recent rail legislations on a national level throughout Europe. Both Germany and Switzerland have banned iron brake blocks on all internal railway networks. Meanwhile, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland have launched initiatives supporting low-noise railcars. The numerous regulations have pointed to the evident need for new technological improvements—such as the new brake type.
Tackling this industry’s issues one step at a time, we are proud of our vigorous involvement in the movement of both national and European rail transport toward greater sustainability.
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